Chapter 100 Enlightenment of the Swords Manual
Gu Shenwei was completely defeated during the seventh monthly test which had been postponed for many days.
Wild Horse and Servant Huan were well-recognized as two of the best fighters in this generation of disciples. No one understood why they had been arranged as opponents, but everyone held high expectations for the monthly test.
The disciples still remembered that the duel had lasted for a day and a night at the ruins of wooden sabre alley. The fact that it was stopped by King Lord at the last moment made the disciples feel as if a fishbone was stuck in their throat and kept wondering about who would be the final winner.
Gu Shenwei’s internal energy hadn’t improved in a long time. Instead, he worked hard at practicing sabresmanship and summarized the experience of each real fight, hoping to make up for his disadvantages. His training worked for the first several months at East Castle, and his kung fu skills were several levels better than than before.
His internal energy had become, evermore, his largest disadvantage to such an extent that at the moment even his sabresmanship and experience couldn’t make up for it.
Gu Shenwei had fought against Wild Horse for more than thirty moves in the simulation room. Even if an onlooker was nearby, it would be difficult for them to tell that Servant Huan was in a weak position. The two seemed to be equally matched opponents.
In the end, the winner was Wild Horse, but Gu Shenwei already knew that he would lose after the first exchange.
Wild Horse’s martial arts skills had been steadily improving. He didn’t have any drawbacks; his sabresmanship, his lightness skills, and even his internal energy all advanced together and his kung fu level had leaped far beyond what it had been compared to when he last duelled in the ruins.
Gu Shenwei’s left chest had been cut, which was dangerously close to his heart. It was one of the deepest scars on his body and had almost taken his life.
There were rumors flying around, saying that Wild Horse had shown mercy at the last moment because he wanted to repay his debt from Southern Jade City when Servant Huan had saved his life. After this, the two wouldn’t owe each other anything.
This was not the truth. Gu Shenwei clearly knew in his heart that, while Wild Horse might be grateful, he was a would-be killer and definitely would not repay one’s favour by ‘showing mercy’.
Wild Horse had used his full strength during the attack and the reason why he hadn’t killed his enemy with one sabre cut was because his power was still insufficient. If the fight took place in another month, Servant Huan would lose his life in less than ten moves.
The injured disciples had several options. Being thrown off the cliff and subsequently enjoying the treatment of fighting to death, which used to be an honour but became meaningless nowadays. The second option was being sent to Ji Xin Yuan. Gu Shenwei would rather jump off the cliff than go back to that place and wait for death.
He used his remaining strength to ask the acquainted disciples to send him back to his Master’s living place. He didn’t dare to close his eyes on the way, afraid of being labeled as untreatable and being carried to the Afterlife Cliff.
He fainted as soon as he was put on the bed and didn’t open his eyes until the next afternoon.
The wound was wrapped with thick bandages and his nose was filled with the smell of medicine. Gu Shenwei secretly felt ashamed and felt that everything seemed unreal. One moment he was making great plans to knock down Golden Roc Castl
e and in the next, he couldn’t even protect his own life.
One should not only have strategies in mind, but also, have a sabre in hand.
The most embarrassing thing for him was how his Master Tie Hanfeng looked at him. His stare was like a knife twisting into his internal organs.
“You can’t be loyal to eighth young lord like this.”
“And you can’t repay me like this.”
“Yes … Master.”
Tie Hanfeng was trying to restrain his anger but as he coldly stared at his disciple, he suddenly broke out, “Motherfucker, what’s the matter with you? I asked you to learn something at Bai Yi Yuan. Did you only learn how to get cut? Where’s your killing aura? Your resentment? If I were you, I would have pulled out the sabre to kill myself. What’s the point of living if you are only going to be wounded and stay unable to counterattack against a mute?”
Gu Shenwei remained speechless as his face turned as red like his Master.
Tie Hanfeng strode back and forth, his shoulder shaking up and down like a unsteadily flying bird, “Idiot, you had a lot of tricks at the castle, you caused lots of trouble in the city and can still live till now. Do you know why? You concealed the internal injury instilled by Da Huang Sect and I didn’t kill you, do you know why?”
Gu Shenwei was still speechless.
“It’s because you killed those idiots five times in the past monthly test; because you could organize a bullshit ‘Bi Nu gang’, survive during the slaughter and make everyone believe that you’re an outstanding killer disciple. Fuck, just because of this, eighth young lord has been secretly protecting you and I allowed your harassment with unreasonable demands. If I knew that you were such a piece of crap earlier, I would have not wasted so much money on you.”
Gu Shenwei became more ashamed, it turned out that his Master had already told the eighth young lord about him being instilled with the finger energy by Xue Niang. If he knew this, it’d be better if he had confessed, but at that time he was still an inconspicuous servant and his lord might not be willing to take on the trouble.
And the one who bought him three days during the murder case of the older prince of the Stone Country was not Tie Hanfeng, but his enemy Shangguan Nu.
This was an irony from head to toe, a humiliation that couldn’t be washed out even with the purest spring water.
“Remember, kid.” Tie Hanfeng seemed to decide to completely reveal his true face, “Your life is not yours, so you’d better make it worth something. Golden Roc Castle is big but it only supports the most ferocious dogs. My place is even smaller; it doesn’t have room for such crap.”
What could Gu Shenwei say? In the end, he didn’t say anything and got out of bed after lying in one more day. He took out that mysterious swords manual and studied it all day long, placing all of his hope on it.
Tie Hanfeng had abandoned his disciple to his fate and again went down the mountain to do his own business. This left Gu Shenwei with sufficient time to study the manual’s abstract words and figures.
Gu Shenwei already knew that the words on the last several pages had some effect, and that the twenty nine sword moves also seemed to have some special effect, but the flaw was too apparent. Gu Shenwei thought that it was the problem of the swords manual itself before, but now he believed it was due to his own lack of understanding.
It was too hard to understand the truth of this book. Gu Shenwei needed someone else’s help.
That night was the regular meeting time for the members of the Bi Nu gang. Several members didn’t show up; there were less than ten disciples left now. Pledging allegiance to their own lords had already almost disbanded the gang, and the added fiasco of Servant Huan’s defeat was a heavy blow to the disciples’ morale.
The meeting ended hastily . The disciples tried not to mention the monthly test two days ago, which made the atmosphere even more awkward.
Gu Shenwei asked Lotus to stay behind. Lotus had the same problem as him; they were both restrained by Xue Niang’s Desolate Finger and their internal energy couldn’t improve.
“That book was definitely not a joke.”
Lotus’s first words already touched on Gu Shenwei’s mind. Their ideas were completely in sync. She didn’t listen to Servant Huan’s advice and also secretly studied the swordsmanship but just like him, also didn’t find the right method.
From then on, the two took any chances they had to study the swords manual together, especially the abstract words on the last several pages, hoping to find the cure for Qi deviation.
Several days passed, but they made no progress. The two could only admit that their method was not working. And so, they turned to learn the twenty nine sword moves in the front pages.
They enlightened each other and made some progress in the first three days, but they soon had a dispute, which grew bigger and bigger until it was at the point of becoming irreconcilable.
“‘If one kills one’s thoughts, one will live forever.’ This is the outlining sentence and ‘kill one’s thoughts’ is the key phrase, so one who uses this set of swordsmanship must be ferocious and ruthless.”
This was Lotus’s point. After arguing for some time, she only became more insistent.
“You’re right, but ‘Devoting oneself to the Dao would gradually harm oneself; one will become weaker and weaker and finally die. Only after one dies can one discover the truth about death’ obviously means that the target of ‘killing one’s thoughts’ is oneself. Only by ‘killing oneself’ could one ‘kill others’.”
Gu Shenwei felt that his understanding was more accurate, but he couldn’t convince Lotus.
Those two teenagers bet everything on this mysterious book, and they kept thinking about those words no matter whether they were eating or sleeping and anxiously found each other to talk about it whenever they had new findings.
The two met too frequently and aroused lots of rumours but Gu Shenwei and Lotus didn’t have the time to care about them. It went on until one day, Gu Shenwei was blocked by several disciples that he finally realized that even in the killer’s castle, there flowed a hidden river called love.
Those several disciples used to be members of Bi Nu gang and they usually were very respectful to Servant Huan, but now they all wore gloomy expressions and talked awkwardly with pent up anger.
“Servant Huan, let’s find a private place.We want to talk to you for a bit.”
Gu Shenwei lifted up his right hand slightly, so he could draw out his sabre at a moment’s notice. Although his kung fu was surpassed by Wild Horse’s, these disciples were still far from being his match. He responded with, “Cut to the point if you have something to say.”
The teenagers glanced each other and confirmed that nobody was nearby. The head of the teenagers said, “You … what’s the relationship between you and … Lotus?”
Gu Shenwei almost laughed out loud as he didn’t expect this to be source of trouble, “She’s my friend, my helper. We have something important to discuss with each other, that’s all.”
Gu Shenwei’s calm expression and his right hand that could grab his sabre at any time seemed to be more convincing than his words. The disciples apologized and left.
Soon there was a rumour saying Servant Huan and Lotus was plotting against Wild Horse. Some believed it, some didn’t take it seriously.
Improving martial arts skills was a matter of life-death importance at Golden Roc Castle, so both Gu Shenwei and Lotus ignored the rumours. They continued to study the swordsmanship but made less and less progress. There were too many words in that book, too many where they only recognized the words but didn’t know the meaning.
Gu Shenwei thought of a method; he decided to ask for explanation from teacher Zhang Ji.
A killer’s disciple couldn’t casually leave the East Castle, so Gu Shenwei wrote down all his doubts one by one and asked some servants who could come and go to pass the letter along. In order to avoid someone peeking at the message and revealing the secret, he wrote long passages every time and listed over a hundred of questions, which included many areas such as martial arts, history and scriptures. He then carefully hid the real questions in them.
Zhang Ji didn’t know any martial arts, but he read all the books that he could find, including many martial arts manuals at Golden Roc Castle. He was incapable of using ‘skillful techniques’ with his hands, but good at using ‘skillful techniques’ with a pen. He answered all the questions and even asked someone to deliver a book for the ‘extra student’ to read.
At first, Gu Shenwei thought that his behaviours might arouse some doubts, but it turned out that he thought too much. Zhang Ji was a powerless guest at Golden Roc Castle; there was no danger in contacting him.
The biggest obstacle came from his Master Tie Hanfeng. He was very puzzled about his disciple’s absence from duties. Tie Hanfeng threatened Gu Shenwei’s little life every time they met and pushed him to work harder and to forget about what were Zhuang Zi’s original ideas or what was Lao Zi’s truth.
Gu Shenwei tried to be as perfunctory as possible. He understood Lame very clearly now. No matter how mean and harshly Tie Hanfeng talked, he would not kill his disciple.
Lotus was also defeated in the eighth monthly test, but she was only injured slightly. Later on, Gu Shenwei also failed, but his opponent wasn’t that powerful so he wasn’t seriously injured either.
But these two defeats helped them to understand an important truth.
Unlike normal sabresmanship or swordsmanship, the twenty nine sword moves in the swords manual could not be conventionally practised. No matter if it were done alone or with a partner, practicing the sword moves in a peaceful atmosphere was not only useless, but it also made them deviate more and more from the meaning of ‘killing one’s thoughts’ and ‘seeking the death’.
The two had reached a consensus on this matter. To acquire the essence of the swordsmanship, they had to kill.